In the News: Health secretary tells social media firms to protect children

Social media companies are facing renewed demands from the government to protect children from harmful online content, amid growing concerns over suicide and self-harm among teenagers.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has warned companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter that he will use the law to force them to act should they fail to remove inappropriate content. He warns that the benefits of new technology could be “lost because of reasonable concerns about its risks”.

He writes: “It is appalling how easy it still is to access this content online and I am in no doubt about the harm this material can cause, especially for young people. It is time for internet and social media providers to step up and purge this content once and for all.”

Hancock said he had issued the demand after the case of Molly Russell, 14, who took her own life in 2017. Her Instagram account was found to contain distressing material about depression and suicide.

Her father, Ian, said he believed social media was partly to blame for his daughter’s death. Facebook, which owns Instagram, said it was “deeply sorry” over the case. Instagram has said it “does not allow content that promotes or glorifies self-harm or suicide and will remove content of this kind”.

Hancock said that protecting teenagers from graphic material online had to be part of efforts to tackle mental health issues among the young. “As you know, I have for some time been very concerned that we act now to stop children and young people being exposed to harmful content online,” he writes. “As health secretary, I am particularly concerned about content that leads to self-harm and promotes suicide.

“Suicide is now the leading cause of death for young people under 20. Levels of self-harm are rising among teenage girls in particular. Like any parent, I was horrified this week to learn of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who tragically took her own life. Molly was just two years older than my own daughter is now, and I feel desperately concerned to ensure young people are protected.

“I was inspired by the bravery of Molly’s father, who spoke out about the role of social media in this tragedy – and moved by the sense that there is much more we all need to do to stop a tragedy like this from happening again.”

Hancock’s letter comes ahead of a government white paper on the risks of online content, which will include issues around suicide and self-harm. “I want to work with internet and social media providers to ensure the action is as effective as possible,” he continues. “However, let me be clear that we will introduce new legislation where needed.

“Research shows that people who are feeling suicidal use the internet to search for suicide methods. Websites provide graphic details and information on how to take your own life. This cannot be right. Where this content breaches the policies of internet and social media providers it must be removed.”

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at


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Time to Talk Day 2019 – fancy a cuppa?

7It’s easy to think there’s no right place to talk about mental health. But the more we talk about it, the more we can challenge stigma and discrimination and bring hope.
Mental health problems affects one in four of us yet people are still afraid to talk about it. For people with mental health problems not being able to talk about it can be one of the worst parts of the illness. So by getting people talking about mental health we can break down stereotypes, improve relationships, aid recovery and take the stigma out of something that affects us all.
In the UK in 2016 there were 6,188 suicides and that’s 6,188 more deaths than there should have been. Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people in the UK, with those over 45 at greatest risk. This ultimately shows us the need for support, the need to challenge stigma around mental health and that starts by talking.
Too many people right now who are struggling with their mental health are made to feel isolated, worthless and ashamed. Time to Talk Day is a chance for all of us to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives…..and ultimately save lives.
Why not make a pledge with yourself to start new conversations this Time to Talk day? You may be saving someone’s life.

Time to Talk Day 2019 – Thursday 7th February

This year’s Time to Talk Day is all about bringing together the right ingredients, to have a conversation about mental health. Whether that’s tea, biscuits and close friends or a room full of people challenging mental health stigma, we want you to get talking.
Mental health problems affect one in four of us, yet people are still afraid to talk about it. Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to talk about mental health.
Having conversations about mental health helps break down stereotypes, improve relationships, aid recovery and take the stigma out of something that affects us all. There are lots of different ways to have a conversation about mental health. And you don’t have to be an expert to talk.
However you do it, make sure you have a conversation about mental health this Time to Talk Day.
Watch this really useful animation on having those important conversations:

👧🧒 Children’s Mental Health Week 🧒👧

The phrase ‘children are so resilient’ is often banded around, but if we think about it, that simply isn’t true.
We know that stress can often seem inescapable and be hugely detrimental not only to academic attainment but also to all round physical and mental health and wellbeing. Yet it is a reality for young people today. We could argue that being resilient isn’t necessarily innate but is something we must all support children in striving for.
The theme of Children’s Mental Health Week aims to show that while we cannot always change children’s circumstances, we can teach them the skills to cope with the difficulties life throws at them.
In order to support children we need to learn ourselves as adults how to. That’s why our conference this year is so vital in the preventative work of young people.
Join us on Friday 1st March to explore the theme of ‘our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes’.
Join workshop leader Sarah Kessling, in learning how to build resilient futures and prevent self harm in young people. This is a fantastic workshop by a highly experienced and interactive workshop leader, a session not to miss.
There are many more workshops available and skills you can walk away with, as well as CPD accreditation.
The next time you hear the phrase ‘children are so resilient’ perhaps being curious in asking about what support that child receives in helping them to be more resilient or if it’s just an expectation adding extra pressure?

Children’s Mental Health week 🧒👧: The Duchess of Cambridge

The Duchess of Cambridge has recorded a personal message to try and encourage children on to be comfortable in their own skin. Kate, who is pregnant with her third child, also said adults should spur young people on to be the “best versions of themselves”. The special video, which was filmed during her visit to Reach Academy Feltham in west London.
If you would like to get involved with children’s mental health week please join us for our 4th annual conference, Friday 1st March. The theme is our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes. Help us drive change and make a valuable and lasting difference to the lives of young people.
For tickets or more info: 🎟🎗

From Harm to Hope, Friday 1st March 2019

Harmless’ third national self harm conference will be held on Friday 1st March 2019, Self Harm Awareness Day. This year’s theme is: ‘our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes’.

£150 per delegate place*
2 delegate places for £200*

Conference details:

The theme of our conference is Our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes. 

Harmless recognises that self harm affects a broad range of individuals, facing many diverse experiences; reducing the number of individuals that self harm requires contributions from across society and includes education, prevention, intervention and postvention work.

This exciting new event will bring together private, public, voluntary and community sector organisations, individuals with lived experience of self harm and practitioners & academics in the field of self harm in an ethos of joint working and shared experience.

Our conference is themed around five strategic areas:

  • Collaborative partnership,
  • Service user representation,
  • Effective practice,
  • Driving change &
  • Overcoming stigma and discrimination.

Delegates can expect to take away from the conference a range of knowledge, inspiration and practical applications for the implementation in real life personal and professional situations. Learning from some of the leaders in the field, delegates will have access to interactive sessions that can drive change in the field of self harm.


Dr Nav Kapur

Dr ​Alys Cole-King

Prof. Siobhan O’Neill

Dr Sarah Cassidy

Children’s Mental Health Week 👧🧒

4-10 February 2019
This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week has a focus on taking steps to be Healthy: Inside and Out.
Children’s Mental Health Week was established in 2015 in order to highlight the necessity to recognise when children and young people are struggling with their mental health and general emotional wellbeing.
Everyone endures a vast array of challenges, these can be extremely individual and it is crucial that we allow children to explore the profound impact that these experiences can have. Being open and honest, but also respecting children’s right to work through these challenges at their own pace, is key to reaching adulthood will an authentic sense of resilience that will best arm them going forward.
Did you know….?
20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year.
50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.
This year our Harm to Hope conference is focused on our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes.
We are determined to keep driving change and improving the lives of young people. Learn vital skills to support young people, hear from key individuals in the field and go away with CPD accredited training.
If you would like more information on this conference or for tickets, please click our Harmless store link below.

This mum is on the run – the story of a family who had their hearts broken by suicide

You may have seen recently our posts about our marathon runner Sophia Thorne. Sophia has started her training for the grueling 42km of the London Marathon this year. Recently she shared an incredibly brave blog post about why she is running for us, and we wanted to share this with you.

“Good evening guys. It’s been 3 weeks since I found out I had a place to run the London Marathon for The Tomorrow Project and I feel ready to talk about why this charity means so much to me. The heartbreaking story in the news this week about the beautiful Molly Russell has reminded me how important it is to talk about suicide, without stigma or judgement. So, this is the story of a family who had their hearts broken by suicide too.

This photo is of my Uncle Phil. He loved life, he was full of energy; the kind of energy that lights up a room without saying a word. He was my Mum’s little brother and the baby of the family. He was the best man at my Mum and Dad’s wedding and when their marriage broke down when I was 5 he became a father figure in my life. He taught me many things of great importance, such as Leicester City are the greatest football club on the face of the Earth, Emile Heskey is actually a saint and a song about Mark McGhee that I shouldn’t have known aged 11! To know Phil was to love him, he was just one of those people.

A few days after my 14th birthday Uncle Phil came to visit, this wasn’t unusual, he lived just down the road. That night was the last time I saw him alive. In the early hours of the next morning he took his own life and with it the life we, his family knew. When I look back now I feel my childhood ended there, after that the world was never the same.

20 years ago there was no helpline to call for a man who was struggling with life. In the 20 years since his death there have been a million “If only” moments, as is the case for anyone who has lost someone to suicide. I believe if he had a Tomorrow Project to talk to he’d still be here.

The impact his death had on us, his family was essentially total destruction. It felt like a grenade had exploded in the heart of us all but due to the stigma attached to suicide nobody quite knew how to deal with it. Watching my mum trying to continue to function in the days, weeks and years that followed still makes me cry. Again, I wish there was a Tomorrow Project there then to support us through the harrowing times.

I am running the London Marathon in memory of Uncle Phil but also in celebration of a broken heart that carried on, as I saw my mum’s do. When somebody takes their own life, it’s not just their life that they take.

So this is my motivation, this has been the most difficult post to write because I couldn’t joke it away, it’s something that even 20 years on is very raw. I apologise for it being this way but this is my suicide reality. If you can donate to the amazing The Tomorrow Project please use this link below

Thanks for all your support guys, you keep me going when it’s -1 outside 🥰

In the News: Prince William says employers should provide more support for people whose mental health is causing them problems at work

Prince William says employers should provide more support for people whose mental health is causing them problems at work “It should be so much easier to go to HR and talk about it,” he said during a speech in Switzerland.

He says bosses need to set the example, saying the change in culture “has to come from the top.” “For some reason, people are embarrassed about their emotions – British people particularly.”

The head of HSBC bank, John Flint, backed William’s calls for change, saying: “There’s a profound difference between when I’m feeling my best and when I’m not.” And his words ring true to people like Joe, who admits he has taken days off work due to “general sickness” when his mental health was poor.

“It is a real problem and it needs more investment,” Joe tells Radio 1 Newsbeat. He works for a social media company in Manchester.

“Having people such as Prince William, who is really proficient in the conversation going on nowadays, is a massive step and it’s great.”

Joe says his company understands his OCD and even has a team dedicated to looking after employees’ happiness.

“It’s a very present conversation that social media can have adverse effects on mental health,” he says.

“They work with mental health charities and some really good resources that mean that I don’t feel out of my depth if I am having a bad day – which has not happened in a long time.

“There’s an on-hand therapist that we pay, that any member of staff can use at any time.”

Joe’s mental health worsened after he was at the Manchester Arena in May 2017, when a bomber killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert.

‘Mental health has always been swept under the carpet’

Joe says previous employers didn’t understand the importance of providing mental health care to its employees and that it’s only as people have become more aware of its importance that workplaces have been able to support their staff.

“The more we talk about it the more informed and educated everybody is going to be,” he says.

“My last employer wasn’t bad. It’s just that it was under the carpet and always has been.”

Kat, who lives near Oxford, is also in a position where her workplace has processes in place where she can access support when she is struggling.

“I’ve had issues with anxiety and depression for most of my life but have always had support in my job as a project manager, especially from my line manager,” Kat tells Newsbeat.

“She listens to me, she checks in with me and allows me to work flexibly when things are really hard.

“Because of that, it’s helped me to stay in work and keep doing my job and not have to take time off.”

But unfortunately, there are still people in the UK who don’t feel like their employers understand the importance of their staff’s mental health.

‘I feel like my company wants to get rid of me’

Danny, a lorry driver from the West Midlands tells Newsbeat he feels like his company “doesn’t believe mental health issues are a real thing.”

He says he’s suffered from mental health problems since 2014 when his son died.

“I feel like it’s a problem they’d rather see the back of and that they’re doing what they can to get rid of me,” he says.

Other people, like Rebecca from South Wales, were able to turn their experience with an employer who didn’t provide support into a positive situation.

“I used to work in a supermarket in Cardiff until I suffered a few bereavements,” Rebecca says.

“My mental health went downhill and I was called into the office to see whether I should stay on at the company or not.

“I am now a self-employed dog-walker and I really enjoy my job. My mental health has been at it’s best ever since I started.”

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Free mental health awareness training

We have four upcoming training dates for free half day mental health awareness sessions in Derbyshire County in Jan and Feb.
This training is open to staff and volunteers from statutory, community and voluntary sector organisations working with Derbyshire County residents.
Please see posters for more info.